Peat Moss-genus Sphagnum
Peat moss is an organic product that is produced when sphagnum moss dies and decays. Many layers of dead and living moss trap water and form peat bogs. The top layer is a rich, organic compound that is excellent for use in home gardens. This top layer is cut into long rolls that are dried and either cut down again into bales or broken down and bagged. When mixed with sandy soil, peat moss helps the soil retain moisture for longer periods of time.
Peat moss is more acidic in nature than other types of compost, which makes it great for plants such as blueberries, roses, and hibiscus. It can be used anywhere and is handy for use as a seed starter because it naturally retains many nutrients needed for healthy seedlings. It also encourages healthy root growth, making it a great choice to add to the soil of container plants. It is also useful for growing rare orchids, mushrooms, and carnivorous plants. Peat moss has been historically used to dress wounds during wartime and to help insulate houses in northern regions of the world.
Peat moss can be purchased for gardening in bales or bags that range from five pounds and up. There are more than 350 species of sphagnum moss, which means that peat moss may range from tan to dark brown to almost black in color. Like any other compost, it may be more or less crumbly depending on how long it has been allowed to age. Bagged peat moss tends to "fluff" more readily than the baled type. Some gardeners feel that the best peat moss is the "finely milled" and baled type while the least expensive, and more useful as potting soil filler, is usually labeled simply as "sphagnum peat moss."
Mixed with potting soil peat moss is also the perfect material for starting seeds. It is perfect for use with blueberries, huckleberries, gardenias, azaleas, dogwood and holly -- all acid loving plants that thrive when the moss is mixed into their soil.
Peat moss is also extremely cost-effective as one application to any type of soil will do wonders for the plant it surrounds and yet will last for quite a few years.